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Promoter adds Lauderdale to triple crown of air shows

2012- By ROBERT NOLIN, Sun-Sentinel — FT. LAUDERDALE — The trappings of his childhood bedroom were high-flying and patriotic: Planes dangling from the ceiling, space shuttle wallpaper, and red, white and blue carpeting.

They would form a fitting backdrop for Bryan Lilley’s later life. The longtime event producer and aviation buff has operated successful auto and airplane exhibitions and has now taken on a new venture: the resurrection after five years of Fort Lauderdale‘s signature air show.

“I just love space and aviation,” he said.

Lilley, 42, who commutes from his Cocoa Beach oceanfront condo to prepare for the Fort Lauderdale show on the weekend of April 28-29, has plenty of experience organizing massive events. “I’ve been around events pretty much since I could walk,” he said. “I went to my first one when I was 3.”

That would be one of the auto shows put on by Liberty Productions, the Harrisburg, Pa., company owned by his father, Robert. Lilley joined the company right out of high school, and over the next 10 years he and his father grew the operation from three to 18 auto shows.

In 1999 father and son sold their company to Motor Trend Magazine, where Lilley ran the auto show division. After three years, he quit to travel the world. Then, in 2005, he found himself in discussions with NASA about a way to celebrate the space agency’s 50th anniversary. Two years later he produced the World Space Expo at Kennedy Space Center.

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